Avitas is a band that has been around for longer than many underground black metal bands out there. Formed in 1997, they have been playing their brand of psychedelic-infused black metal for almost 18 years now. Their latest release, entitled Northern Ghosts, has just recently been released. Being their first studio album in over 5 years, there have been some changes to the sound and texture of the music but the influences from older Avitas music is still there. Starting out with an extremely creepy intro track, Avitas wastes no time kicking into the black metal. The overall sound is very raw and dissonant. While listening, their music was a bit nostalgic because it sounds like some of my favorite black metal recordings from the early '90's. It sounds like a fuse of Bathory, Mayhem, and a bit of early Burzum, all smashed into one.
The album features extremely raw and un-edited drums. While the drumming isn't up to par with some other artists, it does its job in this case. At a few points, the drums cover up the rest of the band and drown out close to all other sounds. While this is quite minor, it can become annoying after some time. The guitars are recorded to sound as raw as possible. They have that 'classic' black metal tone to them. The riffs do get a bit bland after a few listens and there are not too many memorable ones but overall, the songs can be memorable even without stellar riffage. The vocals are my favorite part of this release for a few reasons. One is that even while sticking to typical vocals for this genre of music, you can still understand pretty close to every word. I am a fan of reading the lyrics while listening along to the song but being able to hear and understand them makes it so much better because you can sit back and enjoy the music more. The vocals are typically the focal point of the music but again, the drums take over in spots that they shouldn't be and can get in the way sometimes, another hindrance if you're trying to listen to the lyrics.
Avitas is extremely raw and primal. That being said, they are not for everyone. Only true fans of the raw style that they play will understand the beauty within this, which there is plenty of. I do wish the drums were better controlled within the mix of some songs, but raw black metal is about being, well, raw! So I guess it wasn't a huge worry for them. Either way, Avitas is showing no signs of stopping and Northern Ghosts proves that they're still alive and well.